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Courtaulds (and its chimneys!)

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PeterB
Mount Nod
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106 of 120  Thu 24th Aug 2017 10:47pm  
Member: Joined May 2014  Total posts:104

Hi OldLincoln, I joined Courtaulds as a Research Engineer on Lockhurst Lane in 1984 and worked on site in various forms until last year. The large "tunnels" under the main works site were the extraction ducts from the old Viscose Rayon plant to the tall chimney. These were back filled when the chimney was demolished. The bricks were dropped down the middle of the stack and taken off to fill the old ducts. There were also a number basements and also service tunnels connecting the sites carrying steam, water, telephone cables and an old pneumatic tube system to a central telex room. The tunnel I know of was crawlable rather than walkable, but was always sealed at the one end. The only connection with British Celanese (Little Heath) was a bore hole water pipe down the Foleshill Road from a well on the Engineering site. Regards, Peter.
Courtaulds (and its chimneys!)
LesMac
Coventry
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107 of 120  Fri 25th Aug 2017 10:43am  
Member: Joined Dec 2011  Total posts:294

I served my apprenticeship with the NCB, this job prevented my call up for National Service. For personal reasons I quit the mine but needed a job while waiting for my call up papers to arrive. A friend, Bruce Greenway who was in charge of carbon fibre development, recommended me for a job in viscose research. This involved building a single end machine for experiments in the production of elastic fibre as Clive mentioned above. There was a lot going on in Courtaulds at that time. Carbon fibre was on its way as well as Kesp, artificial meat made from soya, tobacco free cigarettes, Amtico and the future Dexcell plant. There were several other projects in the pipeline. When my call up papers eventually arrived I was reluctant to leave. I explored those underground tunnels but I think they were just for the distribution of services. As an after thought. Clive is correct in that the Carbon Fibre plant was to be situated next to Amtico. Edited by member, 25th Aug 2017 10:51 am
Courtaulds (and its chimneys!)
Annewiggy
Tamworth
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108 of 120  Fri 25th Aug 2017 12:27pm  
Member: Joined Jan 2013  Total posts:1040

OL, I am on a facebook site "I worked at the East Midlands Electricity Board" (Which I did). Someone has posted some pictures of IV & HV Switch-gear at Courtaulds, Coventry, in what look like long narrow rooms. I wondered if this equipment would have been in the tunnels you are talking about.
Courtaulds (and its chimneys!)
Old Lincolnian
Coventry
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109 of 120  Fri 25th Aug 2017 7:21pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2012  Total posts:457

Many thanks for your responses Cheers PeterB Wave , when I was at Courtaulds much of the machinery was below ground level as was the wet lab. I could certainly walk down parts of some of the tunnels without stooping, the main problem was lack of light and rubbish. LesMac Wave , the main projects I worked on were Kesp (Kesp based meals were the cheapest meals in the canteen as they wanted the feedback), synthetic tobacco and a material that would completely dissolve in water within a couple of days. During my (short) time there the synthetic fibres department was known as science fiction (SF) Annewiggy Wave , unfortunately that's a closed group and I feel a bit a fraud asking to join when I didn't work there, but I just might do.
Courtaulds (and its chimneys!)
Midland Red
Cherwell
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110 of 120  Fri 25th Aug 2017 7:39pm  
Moderator: Joined Jan 2010  Total posts:4549

Certainly the Spanzelle unit was below ground level (1960s) Oh my
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LesMac
Coventry
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111 of 120  Fri 25th Aug 2017 7:49pm  
Member: Joined Dec 2011  Total posts:294

OL. When I was there they were producing a thread that would dissolve inside the body. It was called Alginate and that was used by surgeons for stitching inside the body and it would dissolve harmlessly in a few days. I knew little about that plant except that they made a lot of it. I still remember a couple of names from Alginate, George Snell was the fitter and he travelled from Birmingham every day. The foreman was Norman Pickering who lived in Broad Lane and was the nicest guy you could hope to meet.
Courtaulds (and its chimneys!)
Old Lincolnian
Coventry
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112 of 120  Fri 25th Aug 2017 8:19pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2012  Total posts:457

That's probably what the water soluble item was then LesMac. I did not meet many of the workforce as I was based in the labs in the main building occasionally going to collect samples. Much of my work consisted of making slight changes in the "recipe" of a thread and testing what, if any, change it had made to it's properties. The samples came up with a four colour code marked on them, occasionally confusion was caused when two samples had been given the same colour code. I can still remember the names of a few of the lab chemists but many of them were on short-term University placements (six months for a thin sandwich course and twelve months for a thick one) like me and then went back to University to resume their course
Courtaulds (and its chimneys!)
mcsporran
Coventry & Cebu
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113 of 120  Fri 25th Aug 2017 10:38pm  
Member: Joined Oct 2013  Total posts:332

For anyone who worked at Courtaulds sites, there are several clandestine 'explorations' of the abandoned factories that may be of interest at this site 28 Days Later Edited by member, 25th Aug 2017 10:40 pm
Courtaulds (and its chimneys!)
LesMac
Coventry
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114 of 120  Sat 26th Aug 2017 10:24am  
Member: Joined Dec 2011  Total posts:294

I frequently had a jar or three with a couple of chemists in Courtaulds club. Totally forgotten their names though. Harry Shaw, he of the bus company, owned the two one armed bandits in the club besides having a milk round. One of the chemists, feeling a bit miffed after losing a lot of cash in the bandits, nicked Harry's large bunch of keys and made off with them. Harry, not too pleased, called in the old bill. Years later I met the key thief in Winsford Ave and he was running his own courier business. As for the tunnels. As mentioned above, one could walk through most of them without having to stoop. Above the head were many pipes, cables etc. The CRS machines consumed a lot of HP superheated steam and this was brought to the machines via these pipes. I explored from the boiler house down to Courtaulds Engineering. In places the tunnels widened out to accommodate huge vats of some unknown but probably nefarious brew. I know that there were several side tunnels but as I was expected to do some work occasionally, I had to curtail my explorations.
Courtaulds (and its chimneys!)
Little Nut
France
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115 of 120  Sat 26th Aug 2017 10:59am  
Member: Joined Mar 2016  Total posts:35

Hi All, I can't think of a member of my family who didn't work for Courtaulds. Even having researched my family history, the link goes on! Oh my I have discovered the list of hands and the date they started work, so even back before WW1 my uncle on my father's side, his sister, and my grandfather on my mother's were working there. My grandfather was a pipe fitter and so, I guess, spent a lot of time in the tunnels mentioned above. My father worked in main works for 50 years until he took early retirement in the 60's. He was a foreman in viscose spinning, and met my mum - although I don't know what she did! Because of the biggish age gap, my grandfather did not approve of the match, as my father was one of his friends. My step sister, worked as a comptometer operator, my mother's sister, her husband - the list goes on. However my first job when I left school was in the Textile Technology Lab on the top floor of main works. My headmistress at Coundon Court was friends with the boss of the lab - I can't remember her name, but she was transferred to Manchester, and a guy called Michael, who had been her second in command but had been promoted to another lab came back to be our boss. He lived behind my boyfriend's house in Earlsdon, but that and the pear tree is another story! My headmistress was always asked first if she had anyone who might be interested in a job - so much for equal opportunities in 1968, and so the world of work brought me for 3 years to follow the family tradition. I remember going to the basement to wash samples of knitted fabric in the machine down there and that there were very large cockroaches betrween the duck-boards, which always seemed to chase me when I let the water out - mind you, I suppose I wouldn't have been too pleased if someone was trying to drown me in hot water. A lot of the work we did was in microscopic analysis, wear and strength testing and ensuring that if it said 50% polyester / 50% cotton, that was what it was. I was quite surprised recently when buying a new sofa that they still used a Martindale to do wear tests, and put the results in the blurb. One memory was that when there was a fire practise they always seemed to choose our lab as the seat of the fire, as the turntable lift, used to evacuate people, although it could get high enough, could not get close enough to our window. I know I worked with a lady called Bobbie and a guy whose name I can't remember, who left to work for a transport company testing seat material. I do remember though that for his ATI exam he was putting water on to hand towels little by little to discover how much water it would take before the towel felt wet!!! As I was going to Cov Tech day release to do my City and Guilds Full Tech Cert and they had a vacancy for a lab technician I moved on. Edited by member, 26th Aug 2017 11:36 am
Little Nut

Courtaulds (and its chimneys!)
Bumblyari
Hants
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116 of 120  Tue 5th Sep 2017 10:57pm  
Member: Joined Apr 2015  Total posts:21

The 10th Duke of Richmond and Gordon, owner of the Goodwood estate, passed away recently at the age of 87. I never knew, until today, that he worked as an accountant at Courtaulds during the early 1960s. Post copied from topic Obituaries on 6th Sep 2017 8:40 am
nostalgia (-ja) n. dreaming of it being like it was when you dreamt of it being like it is now

Courtaulds (and its chimneys!)
julier
Coventry
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117 of 120  Wed 20th Sep 2017 7:14pm  
Member: Joined Feb 2015  Total posts:4

Hi ex Courtaulds Lab techs, I feel I may know some of you as I worked in DF &VL and SF Lab between 1973-1990 working in Textile Tech, Analytical, Carbon Fibre, Pulp and paper lab, etc. Kesp tasted foul I recall, but not as bad as the artificial cigarettes I recall boxing up at one time. Good to be reminded of those days when work was more like a holiday camp compared to today! Hope life has been kind to you all.
Courtaulds (and its chimneys!)
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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118 of 120  Sat 4th Nov 2017 10:08am  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:1811

We have no control over the time we are born and the future events, but people of around my age, time and destiny took a drastic change, the odds on a long life were shortened. One could look up at the sky, hear a doodle-bug, and time became vital, ten seconds for its motors to keep going and you were safe, but cut-out and you could watch the last few seconds of your life disappear. It happened many times on a daily basis. Now people that lived in Foleshill, Courtaulds was part and parcel of your life, and so it was for me, but as I got to teenage, by the early 40s life was hectic, and I was reading and hearing of the atrocities of the Japanese. By mid-summer of 45 I was told that in a couple of months I would be sent to the Far East to meet these Japanese, and daily I was trained for such. But destiny and time took a hand again, America dropped the atom bomb - as I read or heard the message I knew in an instant my destiny had been changed. I would not be sent to the Far East. But what has that to do with Courtaulds? Well with the atom bomb, we heard of platinum - I have no idea what that is or what it does, except for going blonde, and somewhere in the past I had read of a Courtaulds employee in France escaped at Dunkirk with a load of platinum - meant nothing to me at that time, but it certainly was a valuable element, so were Courtaulds into cosmetics or atomic in the 1940s?
Courtaulds (and its chimneys!)
PeterB
Mount Nod
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119 of 120  Sat 4th Nov 2017 3:37pm  
Member: Joined May 2014  Total posts:104

The spinnerettes used in Viscose Rayon were a platinum gold alloy. Viscose Rayon (artificial silk) was used to make parachutes. Peter
Courtaulds (and its chimneys!)
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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120 of 120  Mon 6th Nov 2017 4:40pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:1811

PeterB. Well, well. So Coventry people made parachutes. So that's why I felt safe testing them out Thumbs up Cheers
Courtaulds (and its chimneys!)

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